Anointed candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and former majority leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos) has been elected as the speaker of the 9th House of Representatives.
Gbajabiamila polled 281 votes to defeat his lone challenger, Hon. Umar Mohammed Bago (APC, Niger), who scored 76 votes in an election that 358 members of the House participated in.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had, less than 24 hours to the election, directed its members to vote for Bago.
Meanwhile, immediate past deputy leader of the House, Hon. Idris Wase (APC, Plateau) was returned unopposed as the deputy speaker of the House.
The only remaining speakership contender, Hon. John Dyegh (APC, Benue), withdrew from the race and declared support for Gbajabiamila less than 24 hours to the election.
Gbajabiamila, representing Surulere 1 federal constituency of Lagos State, has been in the House since 2003 and was nominated by Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC, Kano), while Hon. Lynda Ikpeazu (PDP, Anambra) seconded.
Similarly, Bago was nominated by Hon. Abubakar Yunusa Ahmed (APC, Gombe), with Hon. Mark Gbillah (PDP, Benue) seconding.
In the case of Wase, erstwhile chief of staff to former Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Hon. Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) nominated him.
Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Omolori, assisted by the clerk of the House, Mr. Giwa, conducted the election, which was by open-secret balloting.
The process that began at 2:38p.m., lasted till 6:18p.m. when the result of the speakership election was announced.
A mild protest took place at about 3:58p.m. when Hon. Tajudeen Yusuf (PDP, Kogi) raised the alarm and protested that lawmakers were taking pictures of the ballot papers after voting.
The CNA, Sani Omolori, quickly intervened saying “any member is free to use his ballot the way he chooses to use it.”
Before the elections, security operatives barred vehicles from gaining entry into the National Assembly complex. All the entry points into the complex were manned by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), police and other agencies.
The entry point through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), that was partially opened, was barricaded at the annex axis of the complex as motorists were asked to use the main entry point. The main entry point on Shehu Shagari road too was barricaded as motorists were asked to disembark and park outside.
Members of the House, who had thronged the chambers as early as 8:30a.m., had to wait for hours for the election of presiding officers to end in the Senate. When Gbajabiamila arrived, the shouts of ‘Gbaja’, ‘Gbaja’, ‘Gbaja’ rent the air in the chambers.
In his acceptance speech, Speaker Gbajabiamila promised to embark on reforms, assuring that “it will no longer be business as usual.”
“The 9th Assembly under my leadership is going to be a House of reforms or, if you like, a reform Assembly. The reforms will be dished out piecemeal and at intervals so as not to shock the system.
“Moving forward, therefore, my dear colleagues, it will not be business as usual and we will be shaking the table just a little. We will be introducing various reforms that will reposition this institution, but please rest assured that they will be for the greater good.
“On our shoulders lies the responsibility of working together as a House to safeguard the future of our great country. The House must be reformed before the country can be reformed. We simply cannot and must not fail,” he stated.
The Speaker announced the appointment of Hon. Sanusi Rikiji, the former Speaker of Zamfara State as his Chief of Staff.
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